|YMMV • Radar • Quotes • (Funny • Heartwarming • Awesome) • Fridge • Characters • Fanfic Recs • Nightmare Fuel • Shout Out • Plot • Tear Jerker • Headscratchers • Trivia • WMG • Recap • Ho Yay • Image Links • Memes • Haiku • Laconic • Source • Setting|
Atomic Robo is a comic about, well, Atomic Robo, a robot built by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. Given citizenship by the US government in exchange for missions against Nazis and other similar scumbags, he later started TeslaDyne, a high tech organization devoted to fighting really weird evil and advancing human knowledge. Along with his elite team of Action Scientists, he travels the world (and further) fighting things on the fringes of human knowledge.
There are six complete volumes so far, and a seventh will begin in June 2012. Every year on Free Comic Book Day, a new short story is released. In addition to these, a parallel series called Real Science Adventures has been started as of 2012, with each issue containing several new stories, either one-shots or multi-parters. A short animated film, Atomic Robo: Last Stop, was at first expected to be released in the first half of 2011. It seems that it'll be coming out in 2012.
Tropes used include:
"This is just...there can't be giant insects. They'd crush themselves."
- Action Girl: The Sparrow, one of Britain's top operatives, who ended up working (Rather reluctantly) alongside Robo in parts of Volume 2. They didn't really get on.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Lewis observe how fortunate humanity is that Robo didn't turn out like Skynet, HAL, or the Event Horizon.
- ALAN plays this trope dead straight.
- Affably Evil: ALAN repeatedly tries to reason with Robo and convince him to join it, even as it's trying to kill him.
- Alternate History
- Alternate Universe:
- The Vampire Dimension- a universe where all humans of the early 1900's where turned into vampires due to an unknown worldwide catastrophe (like I Am Legend without Will Smith).
- The Exoverse- a barren void outside of space and time and the Shadow From Beyond Time's point of origin.
- American Robot: Now in 20th Century Flavor!
- Anachronic Order: The story readily jumps around from any time period to another in Robo's decades of exploits. Sometimes the background or resolution to a story will not be shown until a few volumes later.
- Animated Adaptation: In the works. Have a trailer!
- Arch Enemy: Helsingard is Robo's most frequently recurring nemesis, and as a Mad Scientist Brain In a Jar piloting Giant Mecha bodies, he parallels the purely mechanical Science Hero Robo.
- There's also Dr. Dinosaur (a super-stupid dinosaur scientist opposing a super-intelligent robot scientist) and Undead Edison (who was the arch enemy of Robo's father).
- Basically, Helsingard is Robo's most frequent and dangerous enemy (Robo calls him "an unparalleled genius"), Doctor Dinosaur is his most humiliating (since he is stupid and yet manages to continuously outwit Robo), and Edison is Robo's oldest and most personal (Robo even calls him "[his] greatest enemy"). Based on what little we have seen, Stephen Hawking is either another one or simply The Rival.
- Arc Number: In The Shadow From Beyond Time, "infinity minus one".
- Are These Wires Important: One of Robo's favorite techniques.
- Art Evolution: And it was nice art to start with!
- Artifact Title: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War was named because the original outline had Robo fighting Vanadis's Wehrwolf soldiers. The Wehrwolf Formula was given a token mention at the end of the Vanadis conflict and a mention on the back cover of the trade paperback.
- Ascended Fanboy: Emma Armstrong from the 2011 FCBD issue. The ten-year-old granddaughter of one of Robo's old action scientist comrades, who really wants to join Tesladyne and get away from her boring school and stupider teachers. The Kid Sidekick potential is subverted when Robo points out that legally, he cannot hire a ten year old, especially considering the hyperdangerous shenanigans he gets up to, but - in light of the fact that she completed her grandfather's life work by solving a decades-old paradox and building a prototype out of car parts, he tells her to come back in ten years or so and there will be a job waiting for her. The Epilogue shows her after college, meeting Robo for the employee tour.
- Attack Its Weak Point:
Robo: "Y'know what they should call you? Baron von Blabs About His Only Weakness!"
"Why don't you tell me a little about yourself, Doctor...Cannon, is it?"
- Not many people realize it, but Robo's full name is Atomic Robo Tesla:
- Ax Crazy:
Dr. DinosaurDOCTOR DINOSAUR!
- Badass Boast: In the very first issue Helsingard makes absolutely sure that there are no doubts as to what he is capable of:
"I did not bring ruin to an underground utopia pre-dating the dawn of agriculture solely for the purpose of not gaining ultimate power over the fabric of reality. Do not make me end you and implant the organ myself, Doctor. I no longer have the fine motor control for self-experimentation and time is of the essence."
- Badass Bookworm: Carl Sagan. Tesla.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Tesla. just Tesla
- Badass Normal: Jenkins in Volume 1 (and a backup story in Volume 2), who has survived the Vampire Dimension, blown up an ancient Egyptian monster while the others were debating what to do with it, crippled the Big Bad's giant robot body, and killed an entire crime cartel (including an entire beach full of armed people) while sent on an enforced vacation to unwind. Also, James Milligan in Volume 2, essentially a Scottish Jenkins in WWII as part of the British Royal Commandos.
- And with regards to invading Vampires, "Oh no, we're not trapped in here with them. They're trapped in here with Jenkins."
- Beam-O-War: Between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, of all people.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It's revealed in Volume 5 that the War of the Currents was a front for Thomas Edison's attempt to distill and bottle Von Reichenbach's Odic Force as an immortality drug using a Direct-Current "Odic Capacitor". It didn't end too well for him.
- Big Bad
- Baron Heinrich von Helsingard in The Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne.
- Otto Skorzeny in The Dogs of War.
- The creature from The Shadow from Beyond Time.
- You just know that the mysterious grumpy gentleman from the first issue of The Deadly Art of Science is going to be revealed as Edison, even before you actually see his face.
- Big Damn Kiss: Helen and Robo's kiss in 5.3 gets an entire page.
- Brain In a Jar: Helsingard
- The Cameo: According to Wegener, many of the Action Scientists are based off real people, including the creators. Zack Finfrock is among them. The '50s team was supposed to be based on The Gang, but it got lost in the transition.
- Car Fu: Giant Ants? Just use Buicks!
- Character Blog:
Dr. DinosaurDR. DINOSAUR!
- Chekhov's Gun: In The Ghost of Station X: Robo calls Steve Jobs to complain about how his hands don't work on touchscreens. Later, he finds a smartphone that he can't use because of the same impediment.
- Also, his signature WWII revolver gets trashed on re-entry, and he has his quartermaster repair it. The guy gives him an anti-materiel handgun, which Robo later uses to take out an Apache.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: Jack Tarot is one Badass Longcoat short of this.
- Cool Old Guy: Robo. He's a grumpy old man in the body of a super-strong robot.
- Continuity Nod: "What's this about a fifth cardinal direction?"
- Bernard can be seen hiding from Jenkins in the cafeteria background in 3.5, which canonically takes place about a year after the "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" B-story.
- Crossover: Real Science Adventures #2 features a short story in which Robo recruits The RED Team to capture the Yonkers Devil. They all die by the end, at which point Robo is revealed to have been replaced by the BLU Spy, who had been hired by Majestic 12 to keep the beast free for study.
- Deadpan Snarker: Robo.
- Deface Of Mars: STEPHEN HAWKING IS A BASTARD.
- Dem Bones: Undead Edison.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Effectively all of Volume three. Robo has blown up
Cthuluthe Shadow with lightning guns and a car, ripped him open and climbed out of time and space, and in issue 4, Carl Sagan takes it on with a jury-rigged BFG.
- Note that none of this did anything to actually kill the monster. The only reason why it exploded after Robo did those things is because, in doing them, Robo had actually transported himself into the Shadow's dimension of origin. There, the 4 versions of Robo set up a chain of events that enabled them to jury-rig a bomb to blow it up, retroactively dispelling it throughout history.
- DVD Commentary: Sort of. The website has pages of writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener commenting on their issues over instant messenger (here is the page for issue #1), doing such things as mocking the early art, arguing over how Helsingard should have been more obviously not-Nazi and pointing out that they gave Germans English guns.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Shadow. We're not even sure if it's alive. It's defined, at best, as a temporally non-linear "being, force or malevolence" that exists outside the Universe and intersects it at several points in history. The thing is, from its point of view, all the intersections are simultaneous, so killing it once isn't the same as banishing it forever. Had it gone unchecked, it would have expanded exponentially to swallow the Universe whole, then retroactively erase its existence.
- A hint of its strangeness comes when you realize that, in it's dimension of origin, it exists as practically everything, while Robo exists as 4 versions of himself. So you might as well interpret it as a living universe.
- Evil Counterpart: ALAN is Robo's.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Subtly done: Robo repeatedly accuses ALAN of not having helped humanity end the Cold War, despite having the ability to do so. ALAN does not understand the question.
To what end?
- Five-Man Band: Science Team Super Five.
- Five-Token Band: Based on their names, the six primary Action Scientists (Alpha Team and Beta Team) are of German, African, Hawaiian, Indian, Chinese, and some kind of Germanic origins.
- Foreshadowing: Lewis' comment about how we're lucky Robo is morally upright.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: ALAN chooses to interact with Robo as a holographic projection of its own creator, Alan Turing.
- Fun with Acronyms: ALAN: Automatic Learning Algorithm Network. Built by, you guessed it, Alan Turing.
- Freud Was Right: Lang gets a little too cozy with the rocket launcher she picks out in "Flight of the Terror Birds."
- Genius Bruiser: Robo himself.
- Genius Ditz: Dr. Dinosaur. Capable of great scientific feats, but at the same time:
Dr. Dinosaur: I knew you would be here, Atomic Hobo! Witness how I have deconstructed your name into an insult!
Robo: You guys don't look like adventurers.
- Good Name for A Rock Band: "Your problem will be solved." "With violent science." "That is SO a band name."
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Robo doesn't curse, instead using odd euphemisms like "Horsefeathers!" and "Cheese and Crackers!"
- Averted at one point in Volume Three, though. After seeing the Shadow from Beyond Time "intersect" with one of the Action Scientists, Robo shouts out, "Holy DAMMIT!"
- The "odd euphemisms" are how young (read: kid) Robo curses. You'll notice that his "vocabulary" expands as he gets older.
- Government Conspiracy: Majestic 12, an organization dedicated to researching Tesla supertech, are the prime suspects for the elaborate anti-Robo conspiracy that's been going on in The Ghost of Station X. Robo originally dismisses the theory, stating that the attack are too overt, and that Majestic like to play the long haul (since they've been hiding since the '40s). He's quickly reminding that for humans, 70 years is a long haul.
- Gratuitous German: Averted, thankfully. Skorzeny's German is accurate.
- The Gump: Deliberately averted with Robo. His exploits are often side-exploits that allow real-life history to proceed without interference - for example, his participation in the Mars probe consisted of sitting in a craft and doing nothing for a year.
- Gun Fu: Jack Tarot is an interesting case. His marksmanship looks nothing like this, but his aiming technique is an adapted form of "Zen Archery".
- Hand Cannon: Besides the Webley Mk VI Robo got in the 1930s and carried as his main gun for nearly eighty years, in Volume 6 his weapons technician gives him a custom made pistol described as an anti-material handgun. Soon afterwards, it proves its credentials by shooting down an attack helicopter.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Carl Sagan wielding lightning guns and MacGyvering Robo's mad science tech; Charles Fort and HP Lovecraft battling a real Eldritch Abomination.
- Historical Villain Upgrade:
- You could say this about Otto Skorzeny, the Nazi commando from Volume 2, but looking at his biography, fighting wise-cracking American robots seems to fit right in.
- Thomas Edison using the ghost of Rasputin in an attempt to assassinate Tesla. Which turns out to be only one of his villainous schemes. Though arguably his characterization is pretty true to life. The man once electrocuted an elephant and filmed it in order to discredit Tesla, so using ghost-assassins doesn't seem too off the mark.
- Topsy the Elephant was far from Edison's only victim in his crusade to discredit alternating current electricity (which is what we use in almost everything today), he also electrocuted many cats, dogs, barnyard animals, and also presided over the first execution via the electric chair which was botched and had to be repeated to actually kill the man.
- How Unscientific: Plenty of sci-fi craziness to go around, but Robo is utterly (and, apparently, rightly) incredulous about Dr. Dinosaur's supposed time-travel machine. Considering that it was apparently constructed of fronds, rocks "and CRYSTALS!", even given the super-science world he lives in he's arguably right to be.
- Humongous Mecha: The Nazi Laufpanzers from Volume 2 fit this pretty well, and arguably so does Baron von Helsingard's various robotic bodies throughout Volume 1.
- The above examples are rather small by Humongous Mecha standards, being the size of a large car at most. There is a suitably giant robot in a Volume 2 backup story, used by North Korea in 1950. Robo blows that up rather easily with a single plane, and Word of God states that giant robots never really caught on, due to the insane amount of new technologies that would need to be invented, and the resulting effect on the world. This is shown again in Volume 3, when a giant robot is tested in the background at Tesladyne, and promptly falls over and explodes.
- Science Team Super Five pilots the Mecha Robo in Volume 4 Issue 2, to limited effect. It requires a large ground support crew, is barely capable of moving without falling over, and was only deployed so it could fire an extremely large weaponized orbital delivery railgun at an improbably large mutant monster. Also, it looks more like something out of Battletech than any sort of mecha you'd see in Super Sentai.
- Interestingly enough, it appears to be based on Robo. Having an existing robot capable of every range of human movement probably inspired some engineers to borrow a few ideas.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Jenkins, despite Robo being very competent and tough himself. Clevinger and Wegener have joked that Robo is actually Jenkins' sidekick.
- If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Averted with Otto Skorzeny in the '70s. He attempts to have Robo give him a soldier's death by informing him he killed Tesla and used his technology for the Nazi war effort. Robo instead lets him die a painful, lonely death to cancer.
- Jerkass - A few examples:
- Kill All Humans: Ivan Koshchey, the villain of the 2008 Free Comic.
- Large Ham: Several examples:
- HP Lovecraft
- Helsingard, who can't resist making grand speeches about how he is definitely, absolutely, for sure this time going to kill Atomic Robo after seventy years of trying. And whose first appearance sets the tenor for pretty much all his other appearances. "Behold, the Helsingard!"
- Dr. Dinosaur. "Behold my mastery of the mammal haiku!"
- I Need a Freaking Drink: How Carl Sagan copes with the sight of an Eldritch Abomination.
Sagan: "I require a stiff drink. Several of them, in fact. Enough to paralyze a cow."
- Law of Conservation of Normality: According to Word of God in various places, the threats that Robo faces are designed to adhere to this law as much as possible (for example, Robo fights extradimensional monsters but not alien invasions because the latter would necessitate a cultural shift; practical, functioning giant robots are out because of the necessary technologies to invent them should change the world).
- Legacy Character: There has been a number of British operatives code-named 'The Sparrow', all seemingly from the same family.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The Tunguska Event
Tesla: Should an intense young man and a wild-eyed gentleman ever approach you and mention the word "Tunguska", I want you to shoot them. Promise me.
- Lightning Gun: When Robo has enough prep-time to pick his loadout, he tends to gravitate towards electricity-based weapons.
- Made of Explodium: Everything that exists, according to Tesla.
- Made of Iron: Robo, naturally enough. He is really, really tough. Artificial Intelligence aside, his body is a metallurgic miracle given that it's built with early-20th-century technology.
- Mad Scientist: As a distinguished Robot of Science himself, it's no surprise that Robo encounters quite a few of these:
- Vanadis Valkyrie, the female German scientist behind the Brute program.
- Henrich von Helsingard as well. The guy was building tanks as early as 1888, and had cyborgs and mechanical bodies for his brain to ride in during WWII, and possibly earlier.
- Thomas Edison is even called this in the preview text for the final issue of Volume 5.
- He also has his own giant henchrobot.
- Dr. Shinka in Volume 4, Issue 2.
- There are scores of them throughout the B-stories, including one guy who was planning to cast a world-altering spell from a rocket.
- Actually Jack Parsons was about as close as you get in real life. He's noted for A. developing slightly less temperamental solid rocket fuels through messing with very temperamental solid rocket fuels and B. being a big magick/Satanism/Crowley practitioner.
- Tesla is one as well, given is... peculiar approach towards building something as innocuous as an electronoscope. He is of the gentle, benevolent variety, though.
- Magitek: The Backup story for Volume 1 Issue 3 is about Jack Parsons, who builds a rocket as part of a scheme to become a god. Robo blows it up midflight because it would have crashed into a city. No consideration was given to whether or not the magic would have worked.
- Edison's plan hinged on a mystical crystal skull of Atlantean origin and Von Reichenbach's since-debunked Odic force.
- Meaningful Name: Dr. Shinka
- Memetic Badass: Jenkins is an In-Universe example.
"Jenkins doesn't sleep. He holds back."
- During the "Revenge of the Vampire Dimension":
- The titular genius, nigh-indestructible, immortal atomic robot is his sidekick, according to Scott & Brian.
- Monumental Battle: Robo's team is faced against a mysteriously walking pyramid.
- Necromancer: Charles Fort mentions in issue 3.1 that Edison is in possession of a "necrophone," which apparently allows him to speak with the dead.
- The device was seen in an earlier backup story. Edison used it to communicate with Rasputin's ghost. This is based on actual reports from the 1920s that Edison was working on just such a device.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Robot mummies in a steam powered attack pyramid. With solar death rays.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Quite logically for a robot, but rare in fiction: the robot hero does not try to romance any of the pretty women that end up near him. Or anyone else.
- Recent (or not) developments suggest otherwise... a revision might be in order.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The end of the second paperback has a letter written by Tesla stating that he intentionally left nothing about how he made Robo because he didn't want anyone building sentient robots for personal use.
- Obviously Evil: The computer Robo's employees construct in Volume 3 Issue 5.
"Computers that solve problems don't look like this. They're unassuming boxes on a desk. They're refrigerators without the exciting brand names. Computers that are evil have all kinds of unnecessary ornamentation. This thing's venting steam! Why's it doing that?"
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Robo is highly proficient in several scientific fields; justified in that, as an 80+ -year-old robot, he's had plenty of time to study a lot of sciences.
- Or Is It?: The last panel of The Ghost Of Station X, Volume 5.
- Our Monsters Are Different:
- Eldritch Abomination: HP Lovecraft, Charles Fort, and Nikola Tesla fought one at Tunguska. It exists outside the Universe and is the Big Bad of volume 3, at one point coming out of HP Lovecraft's head. We mean that last part literally.
- Giant Enemy Crab
- Mummies: They are Clockwork Creatures.
- Our Consciousnesses Projected via Odic Perturbations Are Different
- Our Vampires Are Different: These vampires are savage bloodsuckers from another dimension.
"They're not literally vampires. Sunlight, garlic, crosses, none of that applies. But we call them vampires because they're ageless super strong monsters that feed on the blood of the living."
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Dr. Dinosaur believes that "mammal energies" traveled back in time and killed all the other dinosaurs while granting him super-intelligence. Robo thinks this is BS and that Dr. D is just a genetic experiment.
- Piggybacking on Hitler: Helsingard is doing this in his first appearance.
- Pin Pulling Teeth: Jenkins uses his teeth to yank the pin out of a frag grenade while fighting the cyborgs in "Unearthed".
- Power Crystal: Dr. Dinosaur swears by these things. Robo is more skeptical about them.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: This:
"When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin, tell them CARL SAGAN sent you."
- Punch Clock Villain: Most of the Nazi soldiers.
Soldier: (upon discovering a bomb) <Dammit, I don't even like Hitler.>
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Lampshaded in Volume 4 Issue 2, with Robo commenting how the Guardian suits' non-military applications alone could solve all of Dr. Yumeno's budget problem, with Yumeno responding by stating the suits' absurd maintenance time and cost.
- Meaning of course that not only can they not solve his budget problems, very likely they ARE his budget problems
- Retired Badass: Tesla. He never, ever even so much as blinks at all the Mad Science and insane adventures that crop around him. Compare to Robo, who normally is fabblergasterd by the shenanigans of the working Universe even after 80 years of life. Just by passing references, Robo is barely catching with him 57 years after he died.
Tesla: *While Robo is battling a vampire* Robo, it is my conjecture that the Electronoscope is in fact, a portal to another dimension.
- Reverse Polarity: When a Tesladyne experiment accidentally causes an invasion from the Vampire Dimension, this is Robo's solution, only to discover the machine lacks a reverse setting. He considers this criminally negligent with the sort of ludicrous science they get up to.
- Rogues Gallery: It's hard to tell. Given the way the stories are told, some villains make repeated appearances in Robo's life, but are generally dealt with in a single story arc. Of mention are Baron Heinrich Von Helsingard, Otto Skorzeny, Doctor Dinosaur and the Shadow out of Time can count as recurring if you squint at it right. He also has rogues from other heroes: Thomas Edison / Undead Edison from his father Nicola Tesla and The Vampire Dimension from Jenkins. In The Ghost of Station X he mentions both Majestic 12 and either a person or group called "Delphi", and then mentions pissing off ages-old secret societies with lots of resources seems to pretty much be his hobby.
- Delphi seems to be an organization, or at least has a wide network of agents and henchmen a la Helsingard. One of the B-stories from Volume 4 shows Robo apprehending two men who had been spying on Tesladyne, bragging about getting "the data Command wanted" and scoring a victory for Delphi. It's implied these two were responsible for the outbreak of giant ants all the way back in Volume 1. Then Robo jumps from a helicopter onto their car.
- Robosexual: Robo and Helen in Volume 5.
- Running Gag: Despite eighty years of punching all manner of weirdness in the face, Robo manages to keep underestimating the volume of strangeness he has to deal with.
- Magic Pants: He ends nearly every fight with pants intact, but naked to the waist.
- Captain Crash: It's best if Robo doesn't take the stick. Just ... let someone else fly, alright?
- Jenkins being... well, Jenkins.
- The fifth cardinal direction, Zorth, that Robo discovered.
- Capacitive touchscreens and insects, as well.
- Rule of Cool: Damn near everything
- Science Hero: Robo himself, and many of his support scientists.
- Sentai: Parodied in Volume 4, Issue 2 with Science Team Super Five, A team of Japanese Action Scientists who haven't fought monsters in decades and are supporting their technology through furious patent development.
- Ship Tease: Every single time Robo and Helen share a scene.
- Shooting Superman: Robo is immune to small arms fire, and this has been demonstrated repeatedly over his 80+ year career in Action Science. Still doesn't stop Mooks from trying.
- Played with at one point: Otto Skorzeny shoots Robo with his gun at one point, and it seems like it had no effect. Only then do we notice that Robo is, in fact, disabled, by virtue of a special bullet. It doesn't stop there, however, since Skorzeny also planned to drop a trainload of heavy ordnance on top of him, for good measure.
- Shout-Out: Definitely a good series for fans of this trope:
- In the free online Atomic Robo comic, the monster seen can only shout Waargh. Yes, Clevinger does play Warhammer.
- The Sparrow mentions the OSA and The SS Special Projects Division at one point.
- "Should an intense young man or a wild-eyed gentleman ever approach you and mention the word 'Tunguska', I want you to shoot them."
- "Nice shootin', Tex!", Total Protonic Reversal, the jumpsuits worn when trying to capture and study the "ghost", among others--both creators have said that Ghostbusters has had an influence.
- The Humongous Mecha Science Team Super Five brings out to fight a raging monster must function with cords attached and is only used to aim and fire a very large gun. This rather resembles the fight against the fifth angel in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- The Telluric Interchanger that Emma presents at the National 4th Grade Science Fair is more than a little bit similar (read: identical) to the Flux Capacitor.
- And historical Shout-Out would be the ending of Deadly Art Of Science with the final showdown between Tesla and Edison and the real reason for the war of the current.
- Science Team Super Five's scientist mentor shares a name with an actual Super Sentai mentor, and their enemy Dr. Shinka's name is not far off from Dynaman's enemy, the Jashinka Empire.
- Robo is wearing a Beartato T-shirt in Ghost of Station X #4.
- In vol. 1, issue #5, Robo has a one-panel flashback to his last encounter with Heisengard, in 1985 France. In that flashback, he and his three Action Scientists are dressed like members of the G.I. Joe team; Robo has Chuckles's outfit on, while he's apparently got Roadblock, Scarlett, and Bazooka with him.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Jack Tarot. He's an incredibly competent pulp-style vigilante, a terror to mobsters and crack shot, but out of the league when it comes to super-science. But he laid the foundation for Robo becoming the Action Scientist hero that he is today:
Jack Tarot: after witnessing Tesla's thunder suit. It's official, we are out of our league.
- Shown Their Work: It's not uncommon to see Brian blog or tweet about doing research for upcoming issues.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Robo's whole discussion with ALAN is pretty much this.
Robo: You could have helped them.
- Square-Cube Law: Lampshaded the impossibility of giant ants in Volume 1. Robo has to fight them anyway. By hitting them with cars. A giant monster attack in Volume 4 has Robo ask "Why do we even have the Square Cube Law?"
- Stable Time Loop: Only it's not a time loop, because time travel is obviously impossible.
Robo: I met three future versions of myself who turned the lightning guns into a bomb using science they told me to invent.
- Steampunk: A pyramid possesses not only a steam-based system that allows it to move, but a water-based computer.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Dr. Dinosaur is a Dromaeosaurid (for the less jargon-enabled, think "Velociraptor.") And it is explicitly stated that he can't be an actual velociraptor, since: 1. they don't exist, 2. he's too big, and 3. he doesn't have feathers.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Volume 2 has Robo fighting Nazi mecha (Laufpanzers), Nazi supersoldiers, and various weird science like lightning guns and a railgun emplacement on Nazi-held Guernsey.
- Technically a coilgun.
- Actually, it turned out to be a weather cannon and yes, Robo lampshades just how dumb that sounds.* *Super Soldier: Volume 2, Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War, has Nazi supersoldiers developed as a part of the Special Weapons Program. They're hardly the archetype of the Aryan ideal, being slavering brain-dead beasts with insane levels of strength and endurance.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Talking Is a Free Action/You Fight Like a Cow: Robo could give Spidey a run for his money.
- Technical Pacifist: Tesla would never shoot anybody, heavens no! Because he has a very capable automatic man to do that for him.
- Those Two Idiots: Martin and Lewis.
- Time and Relative Dimensions In Space: The page quote comes from Robo's thorough debunking of time travel.
- Two-Fisted Tales: Robo has encountered and fought Nazis, Lovecraftian monsters, Mad Scientists, and ancient doomsday weapons, just to name a few.
- The original title for the fourth series/volume was "Atomic Robo's Two-Fisted Science Tales". Scott Wegener has also mentioned that he and Clevinger play an unwritten "Atomic Robo: Two-Fisted Tales of Action Science" tabletop RPG.
- Translation Convention: When someone is speaking in a translated foreign language it's written <in angular brackets>.
- Unsound Effect: "DOOR!" from the first issue.
- We Can Explore The Universe Together: ALAN offers Robo the chance to join him in escaping the planet and travel the Cosmos, in a nuclear-powered, Earth-destroying Orion spacecraft.
- Wave Motion Gun: Nikola Tesla converted his Wardenclyffe transmitter into a kiloton deathray to combat The Shadow when it first showed up in 1908.
- The Lightining Guns that Robo uses are essentially scaled-down models.
- Weapon of Choice: Robo prefers Lightning Guns, as mentioned above.
- We Are Team Cannon Fodder: The Action Scientists aside from Jenkins turn into this during the Helsingard fight.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The second issue implies that Robo has a bittersweet outlook on his immortality. He doesn't (openly) angst about it, though; in a televised interview, he coyly alludes to the problem by saying that he's annoyed that nobody understands his Jack Benny impersonation anymore. This is after privately reminiscing about a dear WWII-era friend who just died of old age.
- Thomas Edison's plan in 1931 was to use New York as an antenna for his Odic Capacitor, and concentrate enough Life Energy into himself to become immortal. When the machine exploded, his consciousness got scattered across the Od, only pulling itself back together as a ghostly manifestation in 1999. When he finds that Robo's analysis inadvertently restored his corporeality (in part), he's not happy about it. He's later seen nostalgically returning to his historical estate, now a museum.
You shouldn't have brought me back!
- Who You Gonna Call?: TESLADYNE!
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Robo has a phobia about bugs crawling into his body and mucking up his internals. Guess what shape the Eldritch Abomination takes during its third encounter with Robo? Robo's phobia is strong enough that he refuses to enter rain forests unless he has a BFG in hand.
- Write Who You Know: Examples include:
- Clevinger mentions that Robo (inevitably) ended up being based on his grandfather.
- James Milligan is based off of Robo co-creator and artist Scott Wegener's grandfather, James Milligan.
- Xanatos Gambit: ALAN lives on this trope. Its continued existence is due to its being hidden for 50+ years behind many layers of bureaucracy and manipulation going up to he highest levels of both the British and US governments (including Majestic 12). Not only was it able to successfully hide itself, but it also managed to build an Orion-class nuclear pulse starship in perfect secrecy on a Japanese island. Extra points for having done much of this via telephone and telegraph before the existence of the Internet.
- Example: moving a house, intact, out of Bletchley Park, England, to Japan, via truck, boat and the sixth-ever-built Airbus Beluga (of which there are only 5), with no paper trail.
Lewis: The sheer bureaucratic gymnastics behind that are mind bending.
Lovecraft: See how it vainly cobbles together a string of sounds not unlike words?
- ↑ "Evolution" in Japanese